Microsoft tipped to release Office for iPad in first half of 2014

Microsoft plans to release its Office for iPad app to users in the first half of 2014, according to ZDNet.

Reports have pegged the release of the Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote app towards autumn of 2014 in the past, but now according to "sources" at ZDNet, it has been moved up after Microsoft's former CEO Steve Ballmer "OK'd" to have it on the market as soon as possible.

Microsoft has been slow to release the Office for iPad app. In June 2013, it took the wraps off an iPhone version that utilised a paid Office 365 subscription to let users create and edit documents, but left 9.7-inch screen users in the dark.

Microsoft is also planning a touch-focused version of Office for Windows, codenamed "Gemini", but it won't be released until after the iPad version of Office, according to ZDNet.

Pricing for the iPad version of Office hasn't been revealed. It's assumed Microsoft will make it free, and then require an Office 365 subscription to edit documents that can save to OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) and locally.

Users have been waiting for an iPad version of Microsoft Office since the release of the iPad in 2010. It's no secret Microsoft has dominated the document-creation space, even with Apple trying to compete with its iWorks suite full of Pages, Keynote and Numbers.

Microsoft is hoping its Office 365 business can become a huge cash maker. It revealed in January the subscription business is continuing to grow steadily, with more than 3.5 million Office 365 Home Premium subscribers.

An iPad app would presumably help Microsoft grow those numbers even more.